Life hands us circumstances and situations that we must deal with to the best of our ability. We must play the hand of life that we have been dealt. So that got me to thinking about my previous season in life, which has landed me to the present. No doubt, some of you are in the same season. If you have not arrived at it yet, fear not, no worries, keep living…. you will! It is fondly known as “salt and pepper.” Yes, I am talking about hair. Now…. let me put this disclaimer out there upfront! I am not being critical or judging any other forms of hair styling, adjustment, or alteration that one chooses to don. This is just a transparent reflection of my personal journey as an African American woman, my hair woes, and the lessons I have learned.
Now some of us feel some kind of way about this season. I am no different. When I first started to show hints of gray, my tendency was to pluck those unwanted strands of wisdom, right out of my head! Foolish! The day came when that was no longer working. I mean they were coming faster than I could pluck them out! It was like a cartoon! The more I plucked! The faster they grew back! So, I dabbled in the next set of options. I tried coloring, which lasted all of a week each time! The jet-black color would fade and surrender to the persistence of the gray below. Money wasted! Wisdom and strength (gray hair) prevailed as it resurfaced more profoundly each time, I tried to cover it with color. Here was the very brief stint with a weave and a wig, both of which proved to be almost comical. I am physically active on a regular basis and the sauna action occurring underneath all of that weave and wig was unbearable! Talk about hot flashes! Whew! Lawd! The lesson I learned! Gray hair has a mind of its own and it will not be silenced. It has earned its status and it won’t be disrespected by color, weaves, or wigs! It’s like it was saying “My journey through life will not be suffocated just because you are feeling some kind of way about my presence! I will not be colored, covered, or otherwise hidden because you don’t like how it looks! “As long as you are living and breathing, so am I… so deal with it (that’s my hair talking)!” I then began to think about the parallel between a hair journey and a personal journey through life.
We spend so much of our younger years, trying to suppress who we are. We make all sorts of concessions in order to fit into the mold of what society deems acceptable. We do this at nausea um and at all cost. However, no matter how much we try to conform, there is that urging, just underneath the surface. That urging that is fighting to come out. That urging that seeps out sometimes, but we quickly suppress because society deems it not acceptable. Lord knows, we want to fit into what society deems as, the norm (side eye roll!) However, at some point in the journey, like the gray hair fighting for its place, our authenticity begins to rear its persistent head.
I then began to embrace this season because I realized it is somewhat of a badge of honor.
Just like gray hair, it has taken resistance, persistence, survival, strength, and courage to get to this place in life. There are battle scars but by the grace of God, He has seen me through! That should be celebrated and embraced, not covered and shunned. Those of us who have lived long enough to earn these strands, have been through some things. We have learned some things. There are some women who can rock the heck out of some gray hair!
So how can we embrace the inevitable?
· Explore different hairstyles to see which one(s) compliment you and speak to you.
· Consider a shift. Consider a haircut, hair trim or perhaps a different status all together.
o If you are still getting relaxers, consider going natural
o If you are still getting a weave, consider going natural
§ If you still desire a relaxer, consider just a tad of gray color
§ If you still desire a weave, consider getting just a tad of gray woven in
When I first started styling my locs, at times I was frustrated. My hair just would not style the way I desired. Previously, when I had a relaxer, weave, or wig, I was able to manipulate it to style the way I desired. Not so with the natural flow! My ever so wise eldest daughter imparted her wisdom upon me that resonated. She stated that we have become so used to being able to manipulate our hair through other avenues. When our hair is finally in a natural state, it is foreign territory. We are not used to having to succumb to and embrace the natural flow. I had to think about that! Out of the mouths of babes, as they say. First of all, gray hair will do what IT desires to do! Second, locs are like fingerprints, they grow and look differently on everyone. Sometimes, I would see someone with locs, and I would wish that my locs would look like theirs. Another “ah-ha” moment. We get so busy looking at others and wishing we had what they have, we don’t appreciate the uniqueness of the beauty that lies within. As I began to embrace this concept, the doors of freedom opened. The freedom of being more comfortable in the authenticity of who I am.
You see, for me, this is a journey as well. I always say that I am product of my own brand of embracing the journey. Hopefully, we all arrive at the place in our lives where we finally settle into our own truth. We settle into the “I don’t care what other people think.” We settle there with conviction! There is a certain sense of peace and freedom that results.
Each of us, at some point in life, must embrace our own presence, our holistic beauty and the natural being of who we are. We must embrace it and not be concerned about how it may look or what others think. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good foundation, eye liner, lip liner, mascara, eye shadow, lip gloss and a nice powder dusting to top it all off! However, there is always a time and place for everything. A season for everything
You have been given strength, perseverance, resilience to endure your seasons of life. I hope you will embrace each season that you are in and all the beauty, strength, resilience, and perseverance that is within you!